Communication and Collaboration
One thing that many educators familiar with 21st century skills agree on is that there is no set definition for what they are. Trilling and Fadel (2012) argued that there really isn’t anything new about 21st century skills. The skills laid out have always been important. The argument is that the skills have a greater importance today because of the global community we live in. One component of the skills relates to communication and collaboration. This can be broken down in many ways. Let’s just look at the communication component. To go one better, let’s only look at communication on the part of the teacher. Many district evaluation programs have a component relating to teacher communication. I want to talk about technology tools that help us communicate with our students and their parents/guardians easier. Okay, here we go.
Remind.com: Lets take a look at the Remind program today. This program started out as Remind101 before the name was shortened to just Remind. The concept behind this tool is that it would be great to be able to send texts to our students with updates, homework assignments, or announcements. We can’t do that though. If we go that route then our students would have our numbers and next thing you know we are getting calls on Saturday nights asking for help with homework or an explanation of a grade. Unacceptable! Remind runs through a system that allows the students to enroll their cell number into a class created by the teacher. Then the teacher can send messages to their students from their computer or from a downloaded app on their smartphone or tablet. You wouldn’t really be sending a text, but the students would receive the message as a text. Another cool feature is that you can send messages to more than one class that you have set up, or you can schedule a text to go out at a predetermined day and time. Just select the class or classes you want to send a text to (Figure 1). Once you have done that type the message and press send. Figure 2 shows part of a history of messages I have sent to my classes. My students like that I use Remind. They sometimes ask me to send them a weekly reminder about upcoming assignments.
There are plenty of other ways to improve communication with parents and students outside of class. Teachers can create a website on its own using Google Sites, Word Press, or one of the many other free website builders. They can then use their site for posting announcements. You can also use Google Groups or Google Calendar embedded in your website or on its own. I will discuss these options in future posts.
Give Remind a try. Send me a message from my Contact Me page if you know of similar programs. There is a link to the Remind site above, but it’s also on my Resource Page with many other educational technology resources. If you like Remind, pass this post on to others who might want to try it as well. Subscribe to my blog if you are interested in hearing about more ideas and resources.
Trilling, B., & Fadel, C. (2012). 21st century skills: Learning for life in our times. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.